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Film and TV

Alaska Native children’s TV show wins Peabody Award

This image released by PBS shows characters, from right, Molly, voiced by Sovereign Bill, her mother, voiced by Jules Koostachin, and father, voiced by Ron Harris, in a scene from the animated series "Molly of Denali." The animated show, which highlights the adventures of a 10-year-old Athabascan girl, Molly Mabray, is on PBS Kids. (PBS via AP)

The first nationally distributed children’s series to feature an Alaska Native as the lead character has been awarded a prestigious Peabody Award.

KTVA-TV reported Monday that PBS program “Molly of Denali” won the award in the children’s and youth division.

The show focuses on the cartoon character Molly Mabray, an Alaska Native of Gwichin, Koyukon, Dena'ina, and Athabascan heritage.

The program, which first aired in the summer of 2019, depicts the 10-year-old helping her parents run the Denali Trading Post while promoting Alaska Native values and literacy.

There were 60 nominees chosen this year for the Peabody Awards from nearly 1,300 entries spanning radio and podcasts, digital platforms and television.

The shows covered a broad range of issues from the criminal justice system, to the #MeToo movement and immigrant rights.

FILE - This June 27, 2019 file photo shows Dorothea Gillim, executive producer and co-creator of ’Molly of Denali, ’ at the Anchorage Museum. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

"Molly of Denali" creator and executive producer Dorothea Gillim accepted the award on behalf of the show.

"Stories are so important," Gillim said. "They help us make meaning of who we are, of our experiences."

The stories children hear or watch "informs their sense of self and their outlook on others," Gillim said.

Indigenous children need to see themselves depicted onscreen as heroes, while non-indigenous children should learn about cultures that have been stigmatized and marginalized over time, Gillim said.

The show's producers said 20% of Americans believe indigenous people no longer exist.

The Peabody Awards, founded and based at the University of Georgia, are decided by a jury that includes industry professionals, media scholars, critics and journalists.

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